Record price for McIntyre's painting of East Cape family

A painting by renowned New Zealand artist Peter McIntyre has fetched a record price at auction in Wellington.

Maori Family, East Cape sold for $129,000 to a private bidder at auctioneers Dunbar Sloane on Wednesday. The work depicts a family gathering pipi on a beach.

Dunbar Sloane director of arts Helena Walker said it was considered one of McIntyre's best pieces.

Eight bidders, including several from overseas, had driven the price far beyond its $25-35,000 estimate at the auction.

Walker said it was by far the most expensive McIntyre painting ever sold in New Zealand.

"The previous highest was a landscape work which sold for $55,000 including premium."

McIntyre was a prolific artist and his pieces come up for sale regularly but this was exceptional, she said.

McIntyre, who was born in Dunedin in 1910 and had studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, enlisted with the New Zealand Army in 1939.

In January 1941, having come to the attention of Major General Bernard Freyberg, he was appointed the country's official war artist. His paintings of Kiwi soldiers during campaigns in Crete, Egypt and Italy made him a household name.

He described how he came to paint Maori Family, East Cape in his book Peter McIntyre's New Zealand. "I was prowling along a beach all strewn with sea-worn logs and pondering that sculpture had come in a wide circle almost back to this point ... when I saw them – a Maori family in a splash of colour among the bleached wood, against a green sea."

The Dominion Post